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Pre-Written and Scheduled Posts vs Timely Posts

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of June 2009 Writing Content 0 Comments

“How do you balance having pre-written posts with timely content – what’s a good balance to strike?” question submitted to me using #pbquestions by @crystalsquest

Using pre-written and scheduled posts is a strategy that many bloggers use to help them keep fresh content appearing on their blogs while maintaining a life that is not dominated 24/7 by their blogs.

Here’s how I do it:

Monday mornings are traditionally my ‘writing mornings’. I set aside 4-5 hours and give myself the goal of writing at least 5 (sometimes as many as 6-7) posts for my blogs. The goal is to have 5 fairly meaty posts (original, helpful and of a reasonable length) by the end of the morning that I can use on my blog over the coming week.

Over the coming week I use these 5 posts – one per day. I usually schedule them using WordPress’s time stamp feature so that they go off just after midnight my time here in Australia (around the time most people are getting to work in the US).

I find that using this strategy means that I can get in a writing groove Monday mornings – this generally leads to a higher quality post as I’m offline, not distracted by email, Twitter and instant messaging. It also means that for the rest of the week I’m freed up to concentrate on other blogging related tasks.

Other Types of Posts

Of course I post more content on my blogs than just the pre-written and pre-scheduled posts. These are supplemented with posts during the week including:

  • breaking news
  • answering reader questions
  • linking to what others are writing
  • polls/reader discussion starters

In most cases these other posts are more time relevant posts and not the kind that you can write in advance or pre-schedule.

What is the Best Mix of Pre-Written and Timely Content?

My take on this is that it really depends upon the type of blog you’re trying to develop.

Some blogs have much more time sensitive content than others.

Examples:

Here at ProBlogger I focus mainly upon ‘how to’ content – most of which is relevant whether it is posted today, tomorrow or in a month’s time. Quite often posts will sit in my draft folder for weeks before I schedule it.

On my photography blog while the main focus of the site is ‘tips’ and ‘how to’ related content there are times of the year (when big photography shows are on and manufacturers are announcing new cameras) where we switch more into ‘news’ mode and are posting on a more timely basis.

Over at b5media many of our entertainment blogs are a lot more time sensitive. Many times our bloggers on these blogs are live blogging while TV shows are on and reporting news relevant to TV shows and the actors in them as the news is breaking.

In the end there’s no rule that fits all blogs. It will largely depend upon what you’re trying to do on your blog. If you’re breaking news, you’ll probably major on posts that are more spontaneous. If you’re producing a tutorial blog or writing opinion pieces the timing of your posts might not be quite as relevant and you’ll be more able to pre-write and schedule posts.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. That’s about how I do it too. Mostly prewritten late the week before or early in the week, with other posts as appropriate. It really helps productivity and keeps a lot of little things from getting in my way of getting things done. With 3 kids, that’s important.

  2. I write my posts everyday. It works well for me. I think yet I got to post on a exact time. Thanks for sharing, Great post.

  3. I find it really difficult to write lots of pre-written material. I really admire the fact that you can write so many posts in such a short period of time. It generally takes me quite a while to put together a compelling post.

    I have been trying to write a few rough articles over the weekend so that I can flesh out the posts over the course of the next week. I like the idea that you have lots of posts prewritten so that you are in a better position to respond to any breaking news story.

  4. I try to get a mixture of pre-written vs. timely. The big topics that require timely posts in The Casual Observer are News (Mondays) and Sports (Tuesday). The easiest ones to write in advance are fiction (Fridays) and things like a pet peeve rant.

    I have a toddler (plus job, wife, etc) – meaning that my writing time is whenever the young ‘un decides to fall asleep. In theory, 8:00. Last night, 9:30 :)

  5. I think it’s great that you can make 5 post in such a short time! I am happy when i have 1 post in 4-5 hours. Well, i guess that skill comes with being a “problogger”.

    When you started out, how many hours did you need for a fairly meated post?

    Very informative post, thanks! I just read this book from Timothy Ferriss. He also suggest not to multitask. I am trying to do the same, because it clearly distracts me.

  6. Most of my content is pretty time-less, so I’ve been trying to build up a nice backlog. I regret not having done it before I started the blog.

    The individual you describe as being taken over by their blog 24/7 seems to be referring to me. :)

    Seriously though, I’ve noticed a lot of the pressure of putting out daily content lift as my backlog grows a little, and I was able to take a vacation last week without worrying too much about the blog going stale.

    I think a 10-post backlog at minimum is something I’d like to strive for, so that I always have the choice of not having to work on the blog on any particular day.

    That will get more and more important too as my family grows and I want to spend time with my wife and kids.

  7. I think it really depends on your niche and writing style. I like to prewrite posts mostly because I find that I get incredibly busy during the week and I want to ensure the post has quality to it. I think this is a great strategy that lets me keep my site somewhat current.

    Quick posts between the pre-written posts can just add timely context to your site.

  8. The cool thing about having timeless stuff pre-scheduled is that you can always bump a post up a few days if there’s a news event you want to cover. I pre-schedule about a week in advance, but almost always end up moving posts around and not sticking to my original schedule.

  9. You have a knack for nailing just the right questions. Beautifully framed and well put.

    I too am a fan of scheduled + just-in-time. I think the discipline of schedule helps build momentum, while the freedom of ad-hoc and just-in-time keeps things relevant, timely, and opportunistic.

  10. I find that I have a tendency to start a bunch of “drafts” which I’ll add to here and there. Then I end up having quite a few of those drafts be ready for publishing and I have a nice little backlog of content to put out there. I’ve never really thought of using the timing feature but that’s great idea.

    Thanks!

  11. Hemant says: 06/17/2009 at 2:19 am

    Hey Darren, let me ask you (seriously), Why don’t you put a retweet button on problogger (you do it on twitip) ?

  12. I originally thoughts that was a good idea for me. But when you are writing something about stock market, scheduling post in advance seems not go work well as the market changes very fast. The bog I have really need to update at least daily.

  13. I usually use the scheduler to schedule posts I write for a reasonable hour of the day. I do most of my writing from 8pm – 12am so I schedule my posts to hit the RSS readers around 9 or 10 am.

  14. Pillar posts are important for every blog. I write short posts each day so I can work on pillar posts throughout the week (or even over a month). My pillar posts require an amazing amount of research but are worth it. So rather than having my readers wait so long for my pillars, I add in little bit size posts on topical issues, facts and quirks everyday.

    I think it is a good idea to bank up some non-timely posts for the times when ‘life just happens’. This way you won’t change momentum on your readers (and you won’t feel guilty that you haven’t posted in a while ;D

    However, I am a little jealous of Darren ;) – being a stay at home mum I don’t get the luxury of block writing. I have to sneak in writing time during nap-times and play-times and tv-time. But the mental change is a great energiser…lol.

  15. This is a nice and timely article Darren! Thanks for sharing from your blogging experience.

    I started using the scheduling feature especially after noticing the time stamp as 12:03 consistently on many posts in the past. Since one and half month I started doing that for my posts. But my time is set for 10:04am India time. That gives me ample time to go to office and later checkout if Google has indexed it!

    So far I had stuck to scheduling posts because of the luxury of time they are giving and at the same time making me feel happy to see a rythm of posting. I am doing so because presently I am posting timeless wisdom about trading stocks. Sometimes I post about current scenario. But I had decided to do that once my blog becomes bigger and gets some following.

    It is actually an inspiration from Steve Pavlina’s (online entrepreneur) blog, that turned to write similarly on stock trading. After that I saw your blog and got fascinated by the frequency, quality of posts and yet at the same time gaining time for the rest of the week. That is why I do scheduled posts :)

  16. Schedulers are lifesavers. Because of my busy schedule I never know when I’ll be able to sit down and write blog posts. The scheduler function always keeps my blog rolling.

  17. Direct question related to this: Why do blogs not advertise what articles are coming up? At my website, we have a widget that advertises upcoming articles. I can’t think of any draw backs, and it helps people know what is happening.

  18. Since my category is saturated with blogs that post on similar content, I have to have a mixture of evergreen posts and timely posts but I try to steer away from the more timely posts, as least after participating in the 31DBBB challenge because when I noticed that another blog in my niche posted nearly dozens of news pieces each day, I realized that timely posts would not be my “niche” and I needed another angle to bring readers to my blog.

    I also tend to write long posts, even when I plan for shorter ones so keeping up with news and timely events in my niche is not something that I’m interested in pursuing or else it would take up most of my day. Since I don’t make much money from blogging, my time has to be centered around other income producing tasks so scheduled posts work better for my type of blog.

  19. Thanks for the great advice. I like the idea of sitting down once per week to create the bulk of the content. My site is a lot of “how to’s” also so this is excellent. Thanks a bunch!

    Nicholas Z. Cardot
    http://www.sitesketch101.com

  20. It’s interesting that you make this post Darren. I was just making a post on the new iPhone OS 3.0 and saved it so I could post it later!

    12 year old tech news blogger @ http://www.laptopmemo.com

  21. I’ve just posted a timely post ~ 8 Features You Should Know About Su.pr, replacing a pillar post that should to be up today. Decision made due to its relevancy, and I think it’s important to provide updated info besides the How-To’s. Also, it gives me more time to prepare for the coming posts — inspirations don’t come everyday. ^^

    @wchingya
    social media/blogging

  22. I agree that it depends on what type of blog you have. I am currently starting a blog that gets articles from executives from all different fields. We are planning on setting dates for each article to be posted as we acquire more writers, but would also like to include timely content. We decided to comment on posts from other websites that we really enjoy and would like to share with our readers. The more posts we put up the more knowledge our readers gain. Therefore timely content is the only way to update our blog daily without running out of articles.

  23. To me, my main concern is justifying between the two kinds of post. I like the way problogger go about have the two post.

  24. I do exactly the same way.
    But as usual I have different topics.
    Relations, culture or art, science,a peace of news/social problems, some easy recipe for people who live abroad and do not know much about the products, and one post about my favorite Buddhism.

    Sometimes i write about my travel too.

  25. Nice article. I am trying to do the same for my writing blog. The challenge is finding time! So, I bring my notebook with me as often as I can to write down ideas or bits of articles. Then I find time during my lunch break at work or in the evening at home to write & post them. I usually schedule my article to post at 6 a.m. Don’t know why, I guess it feels like making an early start.

  26. That’s how I’d like to do it, but just don’t always have the time. Batch blogging is my preferred method, though, it just may not happen on a set day (like Monday in your case) or all at the same time. I may get 2 done..maybe 4.

    I also have a ‘how-to’ bog, so perhaps I’ll create a more formal schedule for myself once my internship is done with. I plan to try full-time blogging once I don’t have that day job anymore.

  27. Seriously though, I’ve noticed a lot of the pressure of putting out daily content lift as my backlog grows a little, and I was able to take a vacation last week without worrying too much about the blog going stale.

  28. For me, I like to write something and then let it sit a bit before publishing. I usually have 3-4 in the queue. This works for me since my blog is a how-to as well and not really time sensitive.

    There are times where a quick post for some timely event makes sense for me but usually, I can just queue up stories and publish them when they are polished.

  29. I have my blog on a Topic schedules and I definitely pre-time my posts to publish on their specified day. I find that writitng post the day of makes for crappy content. Meaning, I feel rushed so I end up throwing anything and everything into a post and hit publish even knowing it is not my best work.

  30. It seems that finding the right balance is the way to go, and this “right balance” is different between people.

    I’m running a photoblog for a few weeks right now, and I’m getting used to take my camera with me almost everywhere I go, so I can get the “meat” for my blog in a very easy way.

    While I usually upload the photos and write the blog posts from one day to another, I still need to find some kind of schedeule or have some draft posts that help me keep having fresh content on those days I can’t (or don’t want) to be in front the computer screen.

    PD: By the way, there is a tag missing in your post that is messing the rest of the page.

  31. ML Vanessa says: 06/17/2009 at 7:52 am

    I think that’s a great method to use. At times I’m struck with the worse writer’s block but will start employing time blocks to write without the outside distractions. One benefit is that you can also write when something inspires you and have additional content. Thanks for sharing!

  32. I go through creative periods and then level off. Just like someone writing a book. When I am creative, I can get a few new blogs going up and have more posts for my other blogs.

    It levels off then. I then wait until I get more creative ideas and the posts just keep coming.

  33. Still struggling to find that time to just sit down and write posts for the week or the next few days.

    But having an editorial calendar first would be really helpful.

  34. I really like that you acknowledge that what works best depends on the type of blog and the personal style of the writer. Blogs are all so different (as are bloggers) that a one-size-fits-all certainly doesn’t work.

    I pre-write most of my posts since very little is time-sensitive. If a great and relevant news story comes along then I might insert a post about that.

    The beauty, for me, of writing the posts ahead of time – independent of posting – is that if I get involved in a topic I have time to do extra research and develop the writing without the pressure of having to get it done to get it posted. It’s lead to some better posts – and to several series.

    Thanks for getting us thinking about how we approach our writing. Being conscious of what we do – and why – really helps.

  35. Mostly I visualise my post and make a note of them when driving or walking or doing excersie . The point of writing is usually in the early morning which I like the most . I just write as I can think and then decide the day before which post to put forward the coming day .
    The posting has always been decided by the readers question or some tweets that I have been getting from older post and stuff .
    No I hardly can just sit and write like 5 post in shot … too much for me.
    Regards
    Sudeep

  36. Awesome point made! I’ve always been a fan of scheduling posts and enjoy your insight from another perspective.

    -Jason

  37. I really need to put together a collection of posts, for those times when I just need to take a break from blogging. When you have more than one blog it is easy to get overloaded, and retreat from it.

  38. When I start a new blog I try to have a few months’ worth of posts organized. Ideally by that time you know whether the blog is going to work out or not, and depending on the sort of blog you may be able to get your readers and users to help you create content by that time.

  39. I find it difficult to write 5 posts in a row. It’s easier for me to write a post every day.

  40. My blog covers politics and my daily progress as a writer, both of which a timely topics that only make sense as they happen. They’re the bulk of posts.

    That said, I (and bloggers who blog on similar topics) can use posts such as reviews which are more timeless, or even more in depth opinion pieces that aren’t just relevant to the time they were written.

    Great question and answer. I’ve been wondering about this.

  41. I do a mixture of both. It depends on the blog.

  42. I’m curios how are you going to write 5 articles on shot, I appreciate that you can do that. Normally I’ll be very tired after writing an article, I will not be able to continue with the 2nd post. Thus I’ll leave it and write another post tomorrow.
    Perhaps that’s the differences between Problogger and normal blogger, lol!

    Regards,
    Lee

  43. I think that if you put enough value into every post, it will matter less how time sensitive is your blog–I mean you can compensate for lateness with value.

  44. I like to write and schedule posts as well as write them on the fly. The combo of the 2 is perfect for adding tons of useful content on my blog. Makes the blog grow a lot faster.

  45. As of right now, I am trying to write a post every day. I am still in the beginning stages of my blogging so I don’t have a “groove” yet. However, I know myself and I think I will end up allotting a certain amount of time per day to pre-write my posts and save them as drafts. I often find that my work is better when I come back and make subtle changes a few hours later.

  46. I’ve tried the “write a bunch of posts and queue them up” method in the past and it actually really helped.

    The only problem is if you do too many in one go you tend to get out of the habit and lose your flow when it finally comes round to making another load of posts.

    It’s a case of finding a balance between not burning yourself out (5 quality articles in one go would be a challenge!) and not losing your groove, as someone above me put it :)

  47. Great post Darren. I’m really seeing the power of having a set time set aside weekly for a few hours to focus on new blog posts. Thanks for being transparent in what you do answering these questions. Gives great insight & goals to reach.

  48. Thanks for the great information. I recently started focusing my time on my blog and was wondering about timing yesterday actually, right before I saw your post. As far as “time of day” rather than “timing of writing”, what would you say is the most effective time to twitter a new posting? I haven’t done much testing yet, but I would love to know your thoughts on this.

    Ciao!

  49. I often just write a heading or a few words and store that away for fleshing out, further research or writing later. Some times I’ll abandon those and sometimes I merge them together.

    I’ve also queued up a bunch of articles to release periodically before going off on holiday. I’ve also queued items for tomorrow if I’ve already written a lot today.

    On the flea circus blog I’ve also written articles about events that are happening in the future and scheduled them to be published about a month before it happens. I’ve even surprised myself with articles magically appearing that I’d forgotten about.

  50. Salman says: 06/18/2009 at 2:45 am

    Hi Darren
    Really awesome post.I too kept 1 weeks posts per day one set on automatic.

    Regards
    Salman
    http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc

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